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What does an Operating Room Technician do?

By Erin Oxendine
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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An Operating Room (OR) technician plays a key role when a patient has surgery by preparing the room for surgery and assisting during the surgery. Other names for people in this position are scrubs, surgical room technicians and surgical technologists. Doctors and nurses rely heavily upon the OR technician to ensure the patient’s surgery goes smoothly.

When a patient has surgery, the operating room technician must prepare the person for surgery and perform certain tasks such as check their chart for identification and allergies or assist the nurse with placement of a catheter or intravenous drip. The operating room technician may have to shave and sterilize individuals to get them ready. After patients are prepared for surgery, the technician will collect their jewelry, glasses and other personal items before taking the patient to the surgery room.

Before the actual procedure, the OR technician makes sure the room has everything the doctor, nurse and anesthesiologist will need during surgery, including instruments, equipment and medicine. The technician sterilizes all of the equipment and the room. During surgery, the technician assists the surgeon and his staff and gives them supplies, tools and gloves. The technician also assists in care of the patient by checking vital signs on the monitors.

After surgery, the operating room technician has to clean and sterilize the room again. A crucial task of a technician is to count the sponges and instruments used for the procedure and account for all of the supplies used. This accounting is done in order to avoid anything such as a sponge possibly being left in the patient's body and causing complications. The operating technician will then wash the instruments and put them away until the next surgery. In addition to these tasks, the technician will also clean the patient after surgery and wheel the patient back to the room.

Other responsibilities that the technician has include collecting lab specimens and disposing of used needles. Some facilities may have the operating room technicians maintain inventory for things used by patients such as blankets and sheets and request new supplies when needed. OR technicians also provide support for other departments and may troubleshoot other hospital equipment as needed.

Most hospitals hire operating room technicians who have at least a high school diploma and certification in operating room technology. The majority of technicians also have experience as a surgical technician or surgical assistant and certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Individuals who work in this field usually work long hours, have to perform in often stressful and fast-paced environments and must be able to coordinate their actions with a surgical team.

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